Exclusive Mix & Interview
April 18th, 2020
City: Los Angeles
Country: United States
Genre: Indie Pop
Mesmi, welcome. Introduce yourself to our audience. Anything special you would like them to know?
Hi! I'm Mesmi - a maker of things, arranger of soundwaves and words. I also happen to be Asian American and female, characteristics I’ve always been really happy and proud of but that I grapple with in the "real world" context where others may see those things in a more warped way.
As a kid, I grew up on the East Coast and later moved to the West Coast. I have also spent time in a lot of different places. Not all of those experiences were easy, but I’m grateful for them.
Take us through your life in music.
I grew up learning Classical Piano and Violin. I played Orchestra for a bit in elementary school, and I really loved it - there's a magical feeling of knowing your part and then hearing that come alive, in this grander otherworldly scale in tandem with everyone else around you. I guess it was my way of being in a band, growing up in an environment where the typical “Rock band with your friends” wasn’t as much a thing.
Since then it’s been this really long, strange journey of letting music matter to me - admitting my relationship to art. I think that comes with being shy and not having a very arts-oriented or communicative environment; I basically consumed from the other sources around me, like mass media and friends. As I got into various singer/songwriters or albums, I learned about who inspired them and more of the history and lineage of things. I’m really grateful to those artists for their taste and for the vast wealth of great art out there!
Since then, I’ve gone from being a closet singer to singer/songwriter, musician and producer/engineer. From that roundabout path through the years, I’ve learned that there’s always more to unearth and room for my ears to grow.
"I love exploring the ideas behind concepts - light and dark, individual and universal; questioning perception in the quest to gain understanding..."
If you could draw your sounds in a picture - what would everyone see?
Hm…probably some beautiful washes of color, splashes of shifting iridescence and then these really stark, textured, chiaroscuro-type things with some glitchy bits, haha.
This picture that you just drew, what has influenced you in the past that has led you to illustrate sounds in this way?
I love exploring the ideas behind concepts - light and dark, individual and universal; questioning perception in the quest to gain understanding and delving into what some might consider dark or heavy. A lot of me tends to straddle certain extremes, and those sorts of elements probably come out in most of what I do or make.
Studio sessions. Any rituals you have that get you started in practice or before & after a show?
I actually don’t really have one, but I want to. Every time I think about it, it seems like it would be so good to at least have a ritual of meditating or praying for a little before beginning something.
"I’ve grown to realize it’s a responsibility: to share and create the best gift you can give, to reach for freedom, and to be as present as possible, especially in a performance."
Any memorable moments in your career that you wish to share?
Hard to pick, but one that stands out is a song from 2015 called “Gloria.” It marked a lot for me - the writing itself was very personal and heartfelt and it was also the first song of mine I self-produced - learning how to mic up my upright piano and mix and all these things. Somehow, with all of that, it received some of the best reception I had had up to that point.
Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects and collaborations?
I have a record coming out later this spring called Slow Bloom, which I’m so ready to release. In addition to the writing and performance, I self-produced and mixed, so I’ve been living with it in rather exhaustive detail and for an extended period of time. I’ve been releasing singles from it the past few months already but it will be different releasing it as a record (at least for me). I’m really excited to share the work in its complete form.
Tell us something about you that the audience at your performance might not ever know.
While I love art and can't seem to help creating, the idea of being an artist is often a problematic thing for me, in a lot of aspects. I’ve grown to realize it’s a responsibility: to share and create the best gift you can give, to reach for freedom, and to be as present as possible, especially in a performance. That said, I’ll probably always wrestle with this idea of what it means to "do art," navigating between the work and the self, and nowadays I’ve been reading lots of James Baldwin.
On a more lighthearted note, despite how I may sound with all this, I’m generally absurdly silly. That might be a surprise!
Mesmi, in a few sentences. Tell us about this mix you made for us. Where did you get your inspiration. Is there anything special you want the audience to know?
This is kind of an Indie artist mixtape mix, chock full of underground bits; like that time I was in a local rock band (for a month), this classical composition from college, lo-fi demos, my tendency to write about social issues whenever I got asked to do an EDM collaboration…also an instrumental portion at the end, to give air to some of those musical details that one easily misses otherwise. It was a challenge for me to not be afraid of sharing a less structured view of what I do, and I hope it gives a peek into the creative journey's wide-ranging wandering.
Thank you for hosting me and thank you for listening <3